The Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children's Charities neared the $4 million mark in funds raised and presented a record $550,000 to 82 area children's charitable agencies during Thursday's Night of Smiles evening ceremony at the Bruton Smith Building at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The Night of Smiles check presentations were held on the eve of the opening night of Speedway In Lights Powered by TVA which runs this year from Nov. 16 through Jan. 5.

The 82 agencies also is a record for agencies aided by the Bristol chapter as it continues its endeavor to enrich the lives of children in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

A number of events helped fuel the organization's most successful campaign ever with Speedway In Lights Powered by TVA, serving as the chief fundraiser. Also, the Speedway Children's Charities golf tournaments, held during August race week and also during the NHRA event in April, as well as the Eastman Motorsports Club Speedway Children's Charities Auction added significantly to the total.

The proceed total also received a significant boost from the "Ride of a Lifetime" Speedway Children's Charities Auction in which high bidders won rides with NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers during driver introductions for the Food City 500 and Sharpie 500 races at BMS. The "Ride of a Lifetime" online auction has become one of Speedway Children's Charities most productive fundraisers.

Claudia Byrd, chair of the Bristol chapter, and the Speedway Children's Charities trustees proudly presented checks to the agencies on the eve of the public opening of Speedway In Lights Powered by TVA.

"I am very happy that we're able to give away so much money to so many deserving charities this year," said Byrd. "Speedway Children's Charities is all about helping needy children and when you can help that many agencies and that many kids, it's a fantastic feeling. Every single year I look forward to this night - it truly is my favorite night of the year. This night belongs to the kids and I'm just so thrilled that we're able to help make a difference.

"We're closing in on the $4 million dollar mark in funds raised over the past 10 years and that is remarkable. That says so much about the wonderful folks in this area who support Speedway In Lights and our other fundraisers as well."

Byrd also praised the many people who aid in making the Bristol chapter's events so successful.

"We've been very fortunate in that we have unbelievably dedicated volunteers who work extremely hard to ensure the success of all of our events," she said. "So many people make this possible: our Speedway In Lights visitors, our auction and golf tournament participants, all of our event volunteers and sponsors. These wonderful and caring people are the reason Speedway Children's Charities can help so many children. They all support these agencies that improve the lives of children throughout our region."

The Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children's Charities is a non-profit foundation dedicated to distributing funds to qualified children's charities in the Tri-Cities and Southwest Virginia.

Following the presentation of funds, recipients and members of the media received a preview of the 2007-08 edition of Speedway In Lights.

Speedway In Lights runs nightly from 6-10 p.m. through January 5 and tickets are available at the BMS gate. Ticket prices for cars are $10 Sunday through Thursday, and $12 Friday and Saturday. Activity van tickets are $15 each night and bus tickets are $65 each night.

For more information concerning Speedway In Lights and Speedway Children's Charities please call 423/989-6900.